Zealandia: Earth’s Hidden Continent

ZealandiaA paper published in GSA Today, Zealandia: Earth’s Hidden Continent, by Nick Mortimer and colleagues, including EarthByte’s Dr Maria Seton, has gone viral over the last few days. In the paper, researchers have for the first time clearly defined Zealandia, a continent that includes New Zealand, New Caledonia, and the Lord Howe and Norfold Islands, that is today 94% submerged beneath the Pacific Ocean. According to GSA Today’s editors, the article is “by a long shot” their most downloaded article ever. Picked up by hundreds of media outlets worldwide, the findings of the paper has reached an estimated 720 million readers!

You can download the paper here. … Read more…

Global plate boundary evolution and kinematics since the late Paleozoic

Matthews++_SummaryFigCitation

Matthews, K.J., Maloney, K.T., Zahirovic, S., Williams, S.E., Seton, M., and Müller, R.D. (2016). Global plate boundary evolution and kinematics since the late Paleozoic, Global and Planetary Change, 146, 226-250. DOI: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2016.10.002

Abstract

Many aspects of deep-time Earth System models, including mantle convection, paleoclimatology, paleobiogeography and the deep Earth carbon cycle, require high-resolution plate models that include the evolution of the mosaic of plate boundaries through time. We present the first continuous late Paleozoic to present-day global plate model with evolving plate boundaries, building on and extending two previously published models for the late Paleozoic (410–250 Ma) and Mesozoic-Cenozoic (230–0 Ma). We ensure continuity during the 250–230 Ma transition period between the two models, update the absolute reference frame of the Mesozoic-Cenozoic model and add a new Paleozoic reconstruction for the Baltica-derived Alexander Terrane, now accreted to western North America. This 410–0 Ma open access model provides a framework for deep-time whole Earth modelling and acts as a base for future extensions and refinement.

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Large fluctuations of shallow seas in low-lying Southeast Asia driven by mantle flow

Zahirovic, S., Flament, N., Müller, R.D., Seton, M., and Gurnis, M. (2016). Large fluctuations of shallow seas in low-lying Southeast Asia driven by mantle flow. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. doi:10.1002/2016GC006434 Large fluctuations of shallow seas in low-lying Southeast Asia driven by mantle flow

Welcome Back RV Investigator

Investigator__cruise_images

Investigator__cruise_imagesWelcome back to the geoscience crew from the ECOSAT II voyage on the RV Investigator! After braving close to 10 meter high waves and over 50 knot winds on their approach into Hobart, the team made it back safely with an impressive haul of rocks, geophysical data and the experience of a lifetime. … Read more…

Ocean Basin Evolution and Global-Scale Plate Reorganization Events Since Pangea Breakup

Müller, R.D., Seton, M., Zahirovic, S., Williams, S.E., Matthews, K.J., Wright, N.M., Shephard, G.E., Maloney, K.T., Barnett-Moore, N., Hosseinpour, M., Bower, D.J., & Cannon, J. (2016). Ocean Basin Evolution and Global-Scale Plate Reorganization Events Since Pangea Breakup. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences 44 (1): 107–138. doi:10.1146/annurev-earth-060115-012211 Ocean Basin Evolution and Global-Scale Plate Reorganization Events … Read more…

Solving Earth’s giant jigsaw puzzle of tectonic plates

plate-tesselation
Earth’s plate tesselation through time (150 Myr ago to present)

Plate tectonics drives earthquakes and volcanism, forms precious mineral deposits and controls the planet’s long-term carbon cycle.   But why do we have just a few large plates, and many tiny plates?  Does it matter? These questions have now been answered in a French-Swiss-Australian collaborative paper led by PhD student Claire Mallard at the Univ. Lyon, published on 15 June 2016 in the journal Nature. The paper includes Nicolas Coltice (Lyon), EarthByters Dietmar Müller and Maria Seton, and Paul Tackley (ETH). 

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Tectonic evolution of Western Tethys from Jurassic to present day: coupling geological and geophysical data with seismic tomography models

Hosseinpour, M., Williams, S., Seton, M., Barnett-Moore, N., and Müller, R.D. (2016). Tectonic evolution of Western Tethys from Jurassic to present day: coupling geological and geophysical data with seismic tomography models. International Geology Review 58 (13): 1616–1645. doi:10.1080/00206814.2016.1183146 Tectonic evolution of Western Tethys from Jurassic to present day: coupling geological and geophysical data with seismic … Read more…

PLOS ONE – The GPlates Portal: Cloud-Based Interactive 3D Visualization of Global Geophysical and Geological Data in a Web Browser

Müller, R. D., Qin, X., Sandwell, D. T., Dutkiewicz, A., Williams, S. E., Flament, N., Maus, S., & Seton, M. (2016). The GPlates Portal: Cloud-Based Interactive 3D Visualization of Global Geophysical and Geological Data in a Web Browser. PLoS ONE, 11(3), e0150883. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0150883 The GPlates Portal: Cloud-Based Interactive 3D Visualization of Global Geophysical and Geological Data … Read more…

Earth-Science Reviews – The Late Cretaceous to recent tectonic history of the Pacific Ocean basin

Wright, N. M., Seton, M., Williams, S. E., & Müller, R. D. (2016). The Late Cretaceous to recent tectonic history of the Pacific Ocean basin. Earth-Science Reviews, 154, 138–173. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.earscirev.2015.11.015 The Late Cretaceous to recent tectonic history of the Pacific Ocean basin 

GPlates Portal International Media Coverage

See the continents form and explore the Earth as never before  Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3484766/See-continents-form-explore-Earth-never-Incredible-interactive-globes-planet-s-geology-evolving-let-sea-sediments-gravity-map.html#ixzz42ZW3kniA  Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

gravity_grid_180my_agoThe recent article on the GPlates Portal published in PLOS ONE by Prof Dietmar Müller, Xiaodong Qin, Prof David Sandwell, Dr Adriana Dutkiewicz, Dr Simon Williams, Dr Nicolas Flament, Dr Stefan Maus, and Dr Maria Seton, has received significant international media attention over the past week, featuring in articles from Australia, UK, US, India, and UAE!

See the list of online media below, and check out the interactive globes yourself!

Read more…

Ocean basin evolution and global-scale plate reorganization events since Pangea breakup

Seafloor ages from Müller et al.

Seafloor ages from Müller et al.Citation
Müller, R.D., Seton, M., Zahirovic, S., Williams, S.E., Matthews, K.J., Wright, N.M., Shephard, G.E., Maloney, K.T., Barnett-Moore, N., Hosseinpour, M., Bower, D.J., Cannon, J., 2016. Ocean basin evolution and global-scale plate reorganization events since Pangea breakup, Annual Reviews of Earth and Planetary Sciences, in press.

Abstract
We present a revised global plate motion model with continuously closing plate boundaries ranging from the Triassic at 230 Ma to the present day, assess differences between alternative absolute plate motion models, and review global tectonic events. Relatively high mean absolute plate motion rates around 9–10 cm yr-1 between 140 and 120 Ma may be related to transient plate motion accelerations driven by the successive emplacement of a sequence of large igneous provinces during that time. … Read more…

Earth's climate throughout the Phanerozoic

Eocene topo bath

Eocene topo bathProject Summary
EarthByte is involved in a series of projects aimed at understanding and modeling Earth’s climate throughout the Phanerozoic. Some of these projects include:

  • Future Fellowship of Maria Seton on “Oceanic gateways: a primary control on global climate change?”
  • Basin GENESIS Hub activities, related to the effect of the mantle, crustal deformation, erosion and sedimentary processes on sedimentary basins
  • ATOM – a coupled atmospheric-ocean circulation code jointly developed by Prof. Roger Grundmann and EarthByte.

EarthByte’s expertise in tectonics, geodynamics and surface process modeling is enhanced by close collaborations with leading palaeoclimate modellers and geochemical oceanographers.  … Read more…

Earth’s climate throughout the Phanerozoic

Eocene topo bath

Eocene topo bathProject Summary
EarthByte is involved in a series of projects aimed at understanding and modeling Earth’s climate throughout the Phanerozoic. Some of these projects include:

  • Future Fellowship of Maria Seton on “Oceanic gateways: a primary control on global climate change?”
  • Basin GENESIS Hub activities, related to the effect of the mantle, crustal deformation, erosion and sedimentary processes on sedimentary basins
  • ATOM – a coupled atmospheric-ocean circulation code jointly developed by Prof. Roger Grundmann and EarthByte.

EarthByte’s expertise in tectonics, geodynamics and surface process modeling is enhanced by close collaborations with leading palaeoclimate modellers and geochemical oceanographers.  … Read more…

EarthByte’s plate tectonic animation added to NOAA’s SOS database

An EarthByte plate tectonic animation has recently been added to NOAA’s Science on a Sphere database. NOAA produces large interactive 3D spherical projection systems that are installed at museums, universities, schools and other institutes across the world (see Science On a Sphere map locations). The EarthByte animation is from the recent Gibbons et al. (2015) … Read more…

EarthByte's plate tectonic animation added to NOAA's SOS database

An EarthByte plate tectonic animation has recently been added to NOAA’s Science on a Sphere database. NOAA produces large interactive 3D spherical projection systems that are installed at museums, universities, schools and other institutes across the world (see Science On a Sphere map locations). The EarthByte animation is from the recent Gibbons et al. (2015) … Read more…

Plate reconstruction with ocean basin paleo-ages

A global animation accompanying the publication Global continental and ocean basin reconstructions since 200 Ma. Citation Seton, M., et al. (2012), Global continental and ocean basin reconstructions since 200 Ma, Earth-Science Reviews, 113(3-4), 212-270. doi: 10.1016/j.earscirev.2012.03.002. View the full playlist on our EarthByte YouTube channel

Plate reconstruction with paleo-bathymetry of the ocean basins

Reconstructions of tectonic plates and oceanic paleodepth (i.e. paleobathymetry). Citation Müller, R., M. Sdrolias, C. Gaina, and W. Roest (2008). Age, spreading rates, and spreading asymmetry of the world’s ocean crust, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 9(4), 19, Q04006. doi: 10.1029/2007GC001743. View the full playlist on our EarthByte YouTube channel

Nature Geoscience – Long-term interaction between mid-ocean ridges and mantle plumes

Whittaker, J. M., Afonso, J. C., Masterton, S., Müller, R. D., Wessel, P., Williams, S. E., & Seton, M. (2015). Long-term interaction between mid-ocean ridges and mantle plumes. Nature Geoscience, 8(6), 479-483. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ngeo2437. Long-term interaction between mid-ocean ridges and mantle plumes Download supplementary materials – zip file

Long-term interaction between mid-ocean ridges and mantle plumes

Whittaker et al 2015 MORs plumes LIPSCitation
Whittaker, J. M., Afonso, J. C., Masterton, S., Müller, R. D., Wessel, P., Williams, S. E., & Seton, M. (2015). Long-term interaction between mid-ocean ridges and mantle plumes. Nature Geoscience, 8(6), 479-483.

Summary
Plate tectonic motions are commonly considered to be driven by slab pull at subduction zones and ridge push at mid-ocean ridges, with motion punctuated by plumes of hot material rising from the lower mantle. Within this model, the geometry and location of mid-ocean ridges are considered to be independent of lower-mantle dynamics, such as deeply sourced plumes that produce voluminous lava eruptions-termed large igneous provinces. Here we use a global plate model to reconstruct the locations of large igneous provinces relative to plumes and mid-ocean ridges at the time they formed. … Read more…

Lord Howe Rise IODP workshop held at University of Sydney

Date: 2015 April 7-10 Venue: The University of Sydney Description: A science meeting at the University of Sydney was held to discuss details of the seven science themes in the Geoscience Australia (GA) – Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) initiated Lord Howe Rise IODP Pre-proposal, IODP proposal 871-Pre. The purpose of the meeting was to look … Read more…

Tectonic speed limits from plate kinematic reconstructions

Plate velocities summary figureCitation
Zahirovic, S., Müller, R. D., Seton, M., & Flament, N. (2015). Tectonic speed limits from plate kinematic reconstructions. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 418, 40-52. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2015.02.037.

Summary
The motion of plates and continents on the planet’s surface are a manifestation of long-term mantle convection and plate tectonics. Present-day plate velocities provide a snapshot of this ongoing process, and have been used to infer controlling factors on the speeds of plates and continents. However, present-day velocities do not capture plate behaviour over geologically representative periods of time. To address this shortcoming, we use a plate tectonic reconstruction approach to extract time-dependent plate velocities and geometries from which root mean square (RMS) velocities are computed, resulting in a median RMS plate speed of ~4 cm/yr over 200 Myr.  … Read more…

ScienceNews features an article on Pacific plate motions paper

EarthByte paper ‘Revision of Paleogene plate motions in the Pacific and implications for the Hawaiian-Emperor bend‘ is featured in ScienceNews with an article entitled ‘Plate loss gave chain of Pacific islands and seamounts a bend‘. Revision of Paleogene plate motions in the Pacific and implications for the Hawaiian-Emperor bend

Global plate and continental velocities since Pangea breakup

This animation portrays the motion of continents (grey, yellow, orange and red) and oceanic plates (blue) since Pangea breakup from 200 million years ago. The model is a modified version of the Seton et al. Citation Zahirovic, S., R. Müller, M. Seton, and N. Flament (2015), Tectonic speed limits from plate kinematic reconstructions, Earth and … Read more…

Geophysical Research Letters – Ridge subduction sparked reorganisation of the Pacific plate-mantle system 60-50 million years ago

Seton, M., Flament, N., Whittaker, J., Müller, R. D., Gurnis, M., & Bower, D. J. (2015). Ridge subduction sparked reorganization of the Pacific plate‐mantle system 60–50 million years ago. Geophysical Research Letters, 42(6), 1732-1740. doi: 10.1002/2015GL063057. Ridge subduction sparked reorganization of the Pacific plate‐mantle system 60–50 million years ago

Geology – Revision of Paleogene plate motions in the Pacific and implications for the Hawaiian-Emperor bend

Wright, N. M., Müller, R. D., Seton, M., & Williams, S. E. (2015). Revision of Paleogene plate motions in the Pacific and implications for the Hawaiian-Emperor bend. Geology, 43(5), 455-458. doi: 10.1130/G36303.1. Revision of Paleogene plate motions in the Pacific and implications for the Hawaiian-Emperor bend

Research voyage on RV Investigator funded for 2016

Dr Maria Seton and Dr Simon Williams from the School of Geosciences and colleagues from GNS Science and the Geological Survey of New Caledonia were awarded ship time on Australia’s new, state-of-the-art research vessel, the RV Investigator. The supplementary voyage, with Dr Seton as Chief Scientist, will investigate the continuity of Australian terranes into Zealandia … Read more…

Age, spreading rates and spreading asymmetry of the world's ocean crust

agegrid_ageerror_2008 rategrid_asymgrid_2008We present four companion digital models of the age, age uncertainty, spreading rates and spreading asymmetries of the world’s ocean basins as geographic and Mercator grids with 2 minute resolution. The grids include data from all the major ocean basins as well as detailed reconstructions of back-arc basins.

The age, spreading rate and asymmetry at each grid node is determined by linear interpolation between adjacent seafloor isochrons in the direction of spreading. Ages for ocean floor between the oldest identified magnetic anomalies and continental crust are interpolated by geological estimates of the ages of passive continental margin segments. … Read more…